AiAiAi Capital Review
AiAiAi are well known company for the headphones and at the pinnacle of that there top headphone (which I own and will review soon) the TMA-1. They have now offered a new headphone that is slightly cheaper but offers a few different things like the plethora of colour options for it. It retails for roughly £90 and can be picked up all over and in high street stores that is a plus. The only thing I do not like about the company Is my inability to pronounce there name which you will know if you have watched any of my AiAiAi unboxing ahaha.
The set-up I have used is the normal, as I have started using a new portable rig, which is the Hippo CriCri amplifier connected through a LOD to an iPod Nano 3G with Apple Lossless and MP3 on it.
I also used my old set-ups of my iPhone 4, Cowon J3 (with FLAC) and my iMac with my Objective 2 amplifier. I also have paired these with a few other amps such as the MiuAudio MRB.
The design of these is what I would describe as urban. It is in fashion and comes in loads of colour schemes from an understated black to the some very bright colours. Although it is all plastic and could be seen to look a bit tacky I know that a lot of my friends who are roughly all 16 though that these looked cool and would like a pair for that reason so I can say that AiAiAi got the design right here. It also handily has a 3-button remote/mic that if pressed in different combination can do different actions. SO if you would like this can double up as a hands free kit.
With the TMA-1
Would also mention that the design is super portable as these fold up into them selves and therefore can fit in most places.
The build is a bit worrying though. We start of with the same low profile jack that the TMA-1 has, it is right angled and is recessed for iPhone cases. It is quite a solid housing to it and it is terminated in a gold plated jack. The strain relief is great and is long and super flexible. The cable it self is also quite nice being not too thick but fairly strong, very similar to the TMA-1 cable.
The headphones themselves are all plastic apart from the headband that is covered in foam. The plastic does not feel to strong but everything is quite thick so the strength is helped a bit. The biggest thing though is how tacky and cheap the plastic used feels, especially compared to the nice sturdy plastic that the TMA-1 uses. The headband also is really thin which helps because it is light but does nothing for your confidence about it lasting. Quite handily though the pads feel like they will last and can be taken off in they do not. Also the ear cups can be taken off the headband so if the headband was ever to break it could be replaced quickly and all of these factors help a lot.
You do not get any which is a shame and I was really hoping for a case or even the awesome pouch that comes with the TMA-1.
The comfort of these is very good. They are light and have no weight fatiguing and the pads sit on your ears very lightly with little pressure and no clamping. The pads are actually quite firm foam but they do not clamp hard enough to have to worry about that. The headband is very thin and although only padded only by the slightest amount of foam, the small size and little weight stops any worries
Now fit is a real problem and that is because of the little clamping force that I mentioned. You need some sort of pressure with super aural headphones so that they make a seal with you ear and you get the full sound. Because of the lack of clamping there is a huge lack of a seal and it is really hard to combat. To get the seal you have to push them on your ears, twist the cable around to force them to put pressure on your ears or you could DIY a cable cinch. However this is one of the major downsides of this headphone.
The Only Way i Could get a Seal
Isolation is poor as these do not seal well and also sit on your ears and not over them. They are closed which helps a bit but I still had a good isea what was going on around me an if you need isolation then your going to want to go for an IEM.
Microphonics (Cable Noise):
There is little microphonics and you only get a faint thud which is good. If this may be something that worries you then worry not as these are fine in this department.
By what I am about to write I do not want to cause any upsets or arguments as this topic can be seen as a sour subject. These have had roughly 100 hours now of use and burn in combined. As burn in is not scientifically proven this all could be mental and happening in my head but in the case that it does happen I recommend burning them in as in my personal experience I have noted improvements which have a massive impact on my enjoyment factor, so don’t make any irrational decisions after listening to them out the box.
The sound of these with a seal (I had to force this) I would say is swaying to bassy with an emphasis and dominant force. There is like this a slight veil over the mids and the sound does seem to be quite muddy BUT it is full and warm and sounds actually quite pleasant. However listening to them with a lack of a seal you have a rather neutral signature with a very empty bass and not quite complete signature. It is rather cold and bright and the mids still do not have the most present but the sound actually has good clarity.
Soundstage and instrument separation:
The soundstage is the usual for a on ear portable headphone and that is small and claustrophobic. Everything with these happens inside of your head and everything seems to be compressed together. There is also a lack of depth with these and everything is thin and far from immersive.
Instrument separation is actually on the better side of things. I actually could tell were most things were coming from and it actually even managed a nice layering until things got extremely loaded. Everything just seems really clear
I think I should but the bass in to two sections as I cannot comment on the sealed sound and you get them and cannot achieve a seal.
Sealed Bass: The mid-bass is very full and has a slight emphasis to it that is not too much but is clearly there. It is quite strong in presence and fairly large in quantity. It has god texture and groans very nice yet it is a tad slow and missing a beat here and there. The impact is strong and satisfying.
Extension actually reaches pretty low and you get some real nice low frequencies and a rumble that is good.
No Seal Bass: The bass feels empty and close to non-existent. You may not think there is any and all you can get is a little low impact groan every now and again and it is clearly not right. Extension is as non-existent as the mid-bass.
The mids should be warm but without a seal are cold. Without the seal they are extremely clear and only a tad behind the highs and in front of the bass. They are always on the bright side of things and sound very good with guitars. Mids with a seal are a tad veiled and also you can sense dark space in the background. Details are nice without a seal but less with one but overall quite smooth and nice in texture with good timbre.
The treble is really waily and strident with strong presence and lots of sparkle. The seal does not really affect the treble apart from the fact with out one-it rules the show and with a seal it shares center stage with the bass. It has rather full extension and fair amount of detail. The treble is really good.
What we have here is potential. A good price, a good design, slightly tacky build quality and a strong sound, imagine a slightly less refined TMA-1.
However all of this is plagues with the lack of an ability to get a seal and unless this is sorted I cannot recommend them, once this is sorted I will change this part of the review. Apparently the AiAiAi customer service have said that they are working on new pads that will gain a seal and I hope this is soon as these are a product that sound good when you get the seal and I really think people will like them. They are also widely available which is good and you get these many places online or also from some stores like the apple store.
Edited by Swimsonny - 9/3/12 at 6:37am